On September 26, 2019, outside Milpitas’ Great Mall, a groundbreaking ceremony took place to initiate construction on a brand new Legoland Discovery Center, set to open its doors in 2020.
Many Milpitas community leaders came out for the event, among them Mayor Rich Tran andChamber of Commerce President Tina Broyles, both of whom took to the lectern to offer remarks and well-wishes. It was indeed a proud moment for Milpitas, although close observers of the lectern did take notice of two distinct words repeating themselves from Legoland officials’ mouths:
To be sure, a quick visit to https://sanjose.Legolanddiscoverycenter.com/ confirms that the new discovery center is presently calling itself Legoland® Discovery Center San Jose: The Ultimate Indoor LEGO® Playground.
This precise name wasn’t a factor in discussions earlier this year between Legoland officials and the Milpitas Planning Commission. However, in the course of approving of Legoland’s presence, a couple Commissioners did sound memorable notes of regret regarding how the Great Mall had chosen to remove its longstanding Milpitas Historical Society exhibit so as to let Legoland in.
To displace Milpitas history while not adopting Milpitas’ name might strike some city residents as an oversight at best…or an insult at worst.
Planning Commissioner Tim Alcorn, who sat on the Commission as they approved the project, offered his personal opinion on the matter to The Beat, while making it clear that he in no way was officially representing the City of Milpitas:
“Speaking as one planning commissioner and NOT the whole Planning Commission, this is clearly misleading. It’s not San Jose. People can say it’s disrespectful, or whatever they might say, but it’s just wrong. It would be better to say ‘Silicon Valley’ or ‘Bay Area’ if you don’t want to say Milpitas. But saying San Jose is false advertising.”
Alcorn went on to add, “I hope this is a mistake and they fix it soon.”
In response to an email from The Beat, Kevin T. Kopjak, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for Charles Zukow Associates, which handles Legoland’s PR, wrote, “Since we traditionally target families with children within a 60-mile radius of our locations, we initially chose Legoland Discovery Center San Jose as the official name.
“However,” he went on, “given that we are actually located in the city of Milpitas, we are taking the time to research a new name to be implemented as soon as possible.”
Although within Kopjak’s comments was the implication that the San Jose aspect of the name might indeed be dialed back or removed, only time will tell…
In the meantime, in an email to The Beat, City of Milpitas Public Information Officer Jennifer Yamaguma likewise sounded a note of openness and diplomacy:
“Through the City’s partnership with [Legoland parent company] Merlin Entertainments, Milpitas welcomes the opportunity to coordinate marketing efforts to publicize that California’s first Legoland Discovery Center will call the Great Mall in Milpitas home.
“While ultimately it is the decision of Merlin, the City looks forward to the development of a new logo that holistically reflects the prestige of having the Discovery Center within this extraordinary region.”
So could it be that Milpitas’ upcoming Legoland Discovery Center will actually put the word “Milpitas” in its name? Certainly, the city in the name would put the city on the map. But even if “San Jose” gets removed, it’s looking like any replacement would be more regional in nature.
This would set the Great Mall’s Legoland Discovery Center apart from the Legoland Discovery Centers in the United States that take the names of their home cities, which are:
Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta (in Atlanta), Legoland Discovery Center Columbus (in Columbus), Legoland Discovery Center Kansas City (in Kansas City), and Legoland Discovery Center San Antonio (in San Antonio).
However, Legoland does not always name its Discovery Centers in airtight accordance with their given host cities. In Yonkers, New York, there’s Legoland Discovery Center Westchester — named for the county and not the city. In Auburn Hills, Michigan, there’s Legoland Discovery Center Michigan — named for the state and not the city. In Pennsylvania, Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia is actually located in Plymouth Meeting — but Plymouth Meeting is a census-designated place rather than an actual city.
Yet it does bear noting that Legoland Discovery Center Boston is in Somerville, Massachusetts; Legoland Discovery Center Phoenix is in Tempe, Arizona; Legoland Discovery Center Chicago is in Schaumburg, Illinois (a village); and Legoland Discovery Center Dallas Fort Worth is in Grapevine, Texas.
So if this new one puts “San Jose” in its name, Milpitas residents needn’t feel snubbed, necessarily. Although one does have to wonder how many other Legoland Discovery Centers around the United States actually replaced their host cities’ historical exhibits in the course of moving in.
We’ll keep an eye on this matter as it unfolds.